The Effect of Massage on Performance of the Sit and Reach Test in Adolescent Soccer Players
1. Morteza Jourkesh, MSc
Department of Physical Education and Sports Science, Islamic Azad University, Shabestar Branch, Iran.
2. Mohammad Rahim Najafzade, Ph.D
Department of Physical Education and Sports Science, Islamic Azad University, Tabriz Branch, Iran.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of a single hamstring
massage on the performance of the sit and reach test in adolescent soccer
players. 10 male adolescent soccer players with a mean age 15.3 ± 0.5 years,
height 172 ± 3.5 cm, body mass 67.5 ± 4.3 kg and 5.0 ± 0.7 years of training
participated in this study. Before treatment, each of 10 subjects performed
the sit and reach test. Performance of the sit and reach test was repeated
after treatment. Mean percentage changes in sit and reach score after
treatment were calculated for the massage and no massage treatments, and
analyzed using student's test. No significant differences were observed for
subjects with relatively height and low values before treatment. These
findings suggest that a single massage of the hamstring muscle group was not
associated with any significant increase in sit and reach performance
immediately after treatment in adolescent soccer players.
KEY WORDS : Adolescent soccer players, massage, performance .
Most medical professionals, and athletes consider aerobic conditioning,
strength training, and flexibility as integral components in any conditioning
program (Bandy etal.,1997; Hartig et al ., 1999). Flexibility has been
defined as the ability of a muscle to lengthen and allow one joint (or more
than one joint in a series) to move through a range of motion (zachezewski et
al., 1989). Loss of flexibility is defined as a decrease in the ability of a
muscle to deform (zachezewski et al.,1989) . some of the proposed benefits of
enhanced flexibility are reduced risk of injury, (Bandy et al., 1997 ;
Hartig et al., 1999) pain relief. (Henricson et al., 1984) and improved
athletic performance (Anderson et al., 1991 ; worrell et al., 1994).
Activation and deactivation of muscle consumes energy over and above force
production, and therefore the fewer times muscle is turned on and off, the
less energy is consumed (Barlow et al., 2004). Equally, greater range of
motion effectively means a longer time from over which muscle contraction can
take place. When muscles are allowed sufficient time to accelerate and
decelerate limb segments, connective tissues are spared and therefore less
prone to rupture . Thus enhanced flexibility is associated with improved
movement economy and reduced risk of injury (Barlow et al., 2004).
Massage has been a therapeutic modality in most cultures since early
civilization and has had a long tradition of use in sport (Callaghan., 1993;
Goats.,1994). Frequent claims made in the sport literature for the benefits of
massage include improved stretching of tendons and and connective tissue
(Samples.,1989) and relief of muscle tension and spasm (Ryan.,1980 ;
Atamford.,1985). Massage is also commonly assumed to enhance muscle recovery
from intense exercise, principally because it speeds up muscle blood flow
(ylinen et al.,1988). However, studies to date on blood flow are
contradictory. A previous review (caforelli et al., 1993) pointed out that
reports on limb blood flow vary from no effect of massage to as much as a 50%
increase. For instance, positive effects have been reported showing that
massage promotes acceleration of muscle and venus blood flow increase blood
volume, and reduces muscle tightness (Dubrovsky.,1983; Dubrovsky.,1990).In
contract, more recent research (shoemaker et al.,1997; Tiidus et al.,1995)
showed no effect of massage on blood flow irrespective of the type of massage
stroke or the muscle mass being treated.
Massage is also thought to relax, and could therefore help to enhance joint
flexibility by reducing the passive tension of antagonistic muscles
(Barlow.,2004) . However, experimental results are equivocal. For example,
(wiktorsson et al.,1983) found stretching to be the most effective way to
increase range of motion in lower limb joints. in contrast, (Crosman et
al.,1984) found that a single massage of the hamstring muscle group increased
the passive range of motion in hip joints and (Barlow et al.,2004) showed
that a single massage of the hamstring muscle group was not associated with
any significant increase in performance immediately after treatment in
physically active young men.
The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of a single hamstring
massage on the performance of the sit and reach test in adolescent soccer
Ten adolescent soccer player aged 15.3 ± 0.7 years of training volunteered to
act as subjects for the present study. Subjects height was 172 ± 3.5 cm and
their body mass was 67.5 ± 4.3 kg. all subjects signed an informed consent
document, which was approved by the institutional ethics review committee.
Subjects were randomly assigned to one of two different groups. Each group had
two difference test sessions that were separated by one week. The test session
consisted either of supine rest or massage of both hamstrings. Therefore all
subjects received both the massage treatment as well as supine rest treatment
by the time the study was completed. The massage treatment lasted for about 15
minutes and included a specific set of effleurage and petrissage strokes. The
person performing the massage treatment was described as a "qualified massage
therapist" but no other information abont the practitioner's training or
shills was mentioned. Sit and reach scores were evaluated both before and
after each treatment session in order to measure any significant change that
occurred from the treatment. The scores were evaluated by a separate
researcher how did not known which treatment session the subject had attended.
The sit and reach tests were performed according to the manufacturer's (Model
01285 sit and reach flexibility test, LAFAYETTE, USA) guidelines (fig 1).
The subjects were blindfolded (reducing psychological influence), and each of
the three attempts (best one chosen, as in guidelines) was separated by a 30
second rest in a tucked limb position (minimizing connective tissue creep).
The spss (11.5 for windows) was used for all statistical analyses. Mean
percentage changes due to massage or no massage were compared using paired
student's test (Mendenhall.,1983).
Figure 1 (A) schematic diagram for the starting position of the sit and reach
test. Subjectes sit on the floor with the back and head against a wall, legs
fully extended with the bottom of the feet against the sit and reach test box
place the hands on top of each other, stretching the arms forward while
keeping the head and back against the wall.
(B) schematic diagram for the movement of the sit and reach test. subjects
slowly bend and reach forward as far as possible sliding the fingeres along
the ruler. A centimeter scale is printed on the top surface of the box. The 15
cm line is approximately flush with the location of the toes below the
overhang of the box.
Table 1 shows the sit and reach scores (cm) for all 10 subjects for each of
their massage or no massage visits. Mean ± SD percentage changes in sit and
reach scores after massage and no massage were small (5.0 ± 3.2% and 3.5 ± 3.7
% respectively) and not significantly different (n=5 ; p=0.552) for subjects
with relatively high (15 cm and above ) values before treatment. Mean
percentage changes in sit and reach scores after massage or no massage for
subjects with relatively low reaches (below 15 cm) before treatment were
considerably larger (17.1 ± 7.1% and 14.4 ± 14.1% respectively ). But
significantly different (n=5 ; p=0.587).
Massage No Massage
Before After Before After
1 13 12 12 17 1
2 16 18 18 19 1
3 12 13 9 9 2
4 15 16 9 12 2
5 27 29 23 24 1
6 21 22 20 22 1
7 8 10 11 13 2
8 13 16 14 15 1
9 28 28 13 14 2
10 12 16 28 27 2
Table 1 : sit and reach scores (cm) for all subjects for each treatment
The major finding of this study is that massage did not significantly affect
sit and reach test. This supports the work of (Barlow et al.,2004) who found
no change in sit and reach performance immediately after massage treatment in
physically active young men. Since the sit and reach score is a measure of
hamstring flexibility, the indirect assumption from this is that a single
massage of the hamstring muscle group does not significantly alter hamstring
flexibility. However, our findings indicate that percentage changes in sit
and reach scores may be inversely proportional to pretreatment values. The
percentage changes in sit and reach scores were relatively long reaches to
begin with (Barlow et al.,2004). It has been suggested that the contribution
of hip flexion to sit and reach performance is about 60%, with the remainder
being derived primarily from spinal column flexion (Sinclair A.,1993). If
reach was limited by spinal or shoulder flexibility, then hamstring massage
would be unlikely to have any effect (Barlow et al.,2004).This could have been
important for the subjects with high reach scores who were perhaps not limited
by hamstring muscle resistance in the first place.
For all subjects with relatively low reach scores before treatment, massage
was associated with an increase in reach, supporting the results of (Barlow
et al.,2004 ; crosman et al.,1984).
After the no massage treatment. However, some subjects showed no change,
wherease others showed considerable change in their sit reach obility,
supporting the results of (Barlow er al.,2004).(Wiktorsson et al.,1983) found
that massage alone or in combination with a warm up did not significantly
increase any lower extremity ranges of motion, except for the ankle joint.
They found stretching to be the most effective way to improve flexibility in
all of the lower extremity joints (wiktorsson et al., 1983). It could be that
the subjects with shorter reach who showed an increase in reach after the no
massage treatment benefited from a stretching effect of he set of three
reaches before treatment (Rubley et al.,2001). Perhaps the supine rest itself
relaxed the hamstring muscles sufficiently to allow enhanced reach in the
subjects with the low sit and reach scores (Barlow et al.,2004). Larger
subject ploos would be required to explore these ideas further.
Despite the indication that a single 15 minute session of massage to the
hamstring muscle group does not increase sit and reach scores there are
several factors that also need to be considered. Related to the actual
massage routine, there is a question about the techniques used. In order to
increase conformity among subjects the massage routine was limited to specific
effleurage and petrissage strokes. However, in clinincal practice massage to
the hamstring muscle group would likely include a number of other techniques
and methods. Therefore, while you may be able to determine that 15 minutes of
effleurage and peterissage to the hamstring muscle group does not produce a
significant change in sit and reach scores, you can't generalize this
finding to state that massage (in general) to the hamstring muscle group will
not produce a measurable change to the sit and reach scores or to hamstring
flexibility (crosman et al.,1984)
There are other factors related to the kinematics chain that must also be
considered. In performing the sit and reach maneuver there is a combination of
hip flexion, which would be affected by hamstring tightness, as well as
trunk flexion, which may not be affected by hamstring tightness. It is
possible that an individual may have relative hamstring flexibility and
massage to the hamstring muscle group would not change their sit and reach
score. However, if the back muscles were also included in the massage
treatment, trunk flexion could be increased this would lead to a more
significant improvement in the sit and reach score.
Another factor to consider is what occurs in the muscle tissue as a result of
the massage treatment. Massage has been demonstrated to reduce the degree of
neuromuscular tone in soft tissue following treatment. Reduction of
neuromuscular tension is one factor that will increase flexibility. However,
it is not the only factor. There is also the connective tissue element of the
myofascial tissues, and flexibility in the myofascial tissues may be
enhanced more completely with techniques other than effeurage and petrissage
(Barlow et al.,2004; crosman et al.,1984).
A single massage of the hamstring muscle group was not associated with any
significant increase in sit and reach performance immediately after treatment
in adolescent soccer players.
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Islamic Azad University, Shabestar Branch, Department of Physical Education
and Sports Science, Member of Scientific Board
MSc (physical education and sports science)
Exercise and sports performance training and testing
- Name: Morteza Jourkesh,MSc
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